Plus ca change…
… plus c’est la mȇme chose. I hope so anyway, as I’m shortly going to be moving this site to a different server. If I get everything right the change-over should be seamless. In practice I expect I’ll miss something and the site may well be out of action for a little while. If so, it will be back soon.
So now the transfer is complete, but if I said it went without a hitch I would be deceiving you. Functionally it’s OK, in the sense that the site continues to do what it’s supposed to do, but to start with it was very slow indeed. This didn’t look good, as we’re promoting tools and techniques to make websites more efficient and, therefore faster!
I had installed W3TC and configured it as per our own instructions, but to be brutally frank, it didn’t make much difference! On closer investigation, I came to the conclusion that the site itself was (probably) behaving correctly and promptly. What seemed to be causing the delays was the bit between my computer and the server — the internet. Our original server was in Europe, as are we (although some of my UK compatriots seem to wish otherwise). Our new server is somewhere in the US — Michigan, to be more precise. Well, it’s a small world, as they say, but not apparently that small. There are generally more hops between Worcester (UK) and Michigan (USA) than there are between Worcester and Holland, and consequently more opportunities for things to go wrong, or get congested, or whatever.
But it was a useful lesson, and I will probably be adding a coda to our Cheat Sheet about it. It all comes down to Keeping It Simple, Stupid! The more images (particularly large uncompressed ones) and other large files it has, the more a site will be delayed by slow transfers somewhere along the route. And the more separate files it uses — particularly if they’re from different domains, the more connections a site will have to make and the more likely it will be to be held up by a busy DNS server somewhere.
In the end, by applying these simple principles I seem to have got the site to behave reasonably quickly again, and, to be honest, they seem to have had more bearing on the situation than the relatively subtle tune-ups provided by W3TC!
Of course you need both. But it’s easy to get misled by using a server that’s relatively close (a mere 300 miles or so), into thinking you have an efficient site, when your potential customers on a different continent altogether (and mostly 3,000 to 6,000 miles away in the opposite direction) may get a very different impression!